Auto Center Drive is now Cheri Fleming Auto Center Drive
By Sarah Sikandar
Signal Staff Writer
Accolades and applause in memory of Cheri Fleming mixed with the raindrops on a drizzly Tuesday morning at the newly renamed Cheri Fleming Auto Center Drive, as family, friends, community leaders and everyone who was touched by Fleming’s warmth gathered on the chilly morning to see the street renamed in her honor.
The morning was a reminder of the lasting effects of Cheri Fleming’s impact on the community and the people she touched. A philanthropist, businesswoman and community leader, Cheri was remembered by peers and local leaders for her enduring influence on the community she served and thrived in for nearly four decades.
“This is Cheri, she would’ve loved this,” said a sentimental Don Fleming, holding back tears. “That’s the most amazing day in my entire life, and what’s amazing about all of this is that she lived with me for 40 years,” he said with a self-deprecating cackle. “We were together every single day, all day. And when we got home, we’d talk about how our day was.”
Cheri, a beloved businesswoman, a philanthropist, and a community leader, was remembered as a sensitive, kind-hearted individual who’d remember everyone’s name in the room. Cheri, who co-owned Valencia Acura with her husband, Don, died in November 2020 after a brief illness.
Her will to give back and the desire for inclusivity remained at the heart of the morning’s speeches.
“She was one of the most approachable women in a room, something’s that’s not easy for a woman in politics or business,” said Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, who represents the 38th District. “I still try and emulate who she was and I haven’t perfected it yet.”
Kris Hough, representing Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, described Cheri as “a force of nature. And I will be forever grateful for what she did for others and to make our community a better place to live, work and drive.”
Stephanie English, representing county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, expressed gratitude for Cheri’s contributions to the Santa Clarita community which, she added, “is largely what it is because of Cheri and Don, and all the time and work she contributed.”
English added that she appreciated Cheri’s role as a mentor to young men and women who wished to contribute to the community. “A beautiful life that will never be forgotten and will have a lasting impact on generations to come.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste commented on Cheri’s personality as a reminder of the strong women of the Santa Clarita Valley. “She depicted all the good, and yet she was extraordinarily strong. She could handle pressure in extreme situations.” Her gift, she added, “was the ability to touch people.”
Capt. Justin Diez of the SCV Sheriff’s Station remembered Cheri as a supporter of the station for the longest time. “This will be set in stone in the community,” reminding people who join this community of all Cheri has done for it.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, speaking to The Signal, was reminded of Cheri’s “special hugs.”
“She was strong and yet delicate about things,” Garcia said. “She was the backbone of our city for decades. For not just women, but everyone. To have this sign in the middle of the city, and next to the Acura dealership, is fitting and special.”